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US boxer inspired by daughter and a sense of style

US amateur heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder already has a suit picked out to wear with the gold medal he plans to win in Beijing. For him, nothing will be an acceptable substitute.

"I won't be complete without a gold medal," he said in an interview with China Daily. "My suit won't look right unless it's got the gold medal."

It may be an audacious target for the 22-year-old, who has only been boxing for two-and-a-half years and has only 22 bouts under his belt. But the 2m-tall, 91kg Wilder - with his punishing right hand, 88cm reach, and only two career losses - seems a natural talent in the ring.

Deontay Wilder poses for a picture with a China Daily baseball cap. Lou Bama

His first major tournament was the 80th Golden Gloves in 2007, where he won the title against far more seasoned opponents. He went on to win the US heavyweight championship later that year.

Wilder was an outstanding high-school athlete growing up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Tall and strong, he imagined himself going on to play college ball, maybe football or basketball. But when he was 19, his life turned upside down.

That was the year his daughter, Naieya, was born. She was born with spina bafida, a spinal condition that brings along a hefty medical bill.

Wilder's college dreams were effectively knocked out. He instead got two jobs to support his family. He took up boxing because he thought it might bring in some extra income. Now he is an Olympian.

"Sometimes people make wrong decisions or choices, but we need to be strong to correct the mistakes," he said. "My daughter made the best of me."

This is Deontay's second time in China - he and his teammates traveled to Beijing last November for the Good Luck Beijing International Boxing Invitational Tournament.

The US boxing team, which was among the first teams to arrive at the Olympic Village, has been training hard at Beijing Normal University. The boxing competition starts on Aug 13 at Beijing Workers' Gymnasium.

"I'm so ready for this competition to start. Since I've been here, we've been training, training and training. Everyday, we train for an hour and a half, sometimes twice a day, sometimes three. Then we come back at night to spar," Wilder said.

Wilder and his teammates just finished an intense 10-month training program at the US Olympic base in Colorado Springs.

Wilder's determination is not in question - it is his inexperience that could trip him up in Beijing. But he believes his inspiration, both from his daughter and from his faith, can carry him through.

"People keep asking me, 'How can you do this?'" he said. "This (opportunity) is just a blessing from God."

Wilder's father is a pastor and Deontay grew up Christian. He says his faith has always been a big part of his success.

"I always ask people I meet to keep me in their prayers," he said.

But he knows that, in the end, the difference between winning gold and going home without the jewelry to complement his new suit is all up to him.

"I've got to work so hard to win the gold medal. But I've got so many things that I want to do. It's just a beginning."

Source:China Daily

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